What better way to start the new year than with an annual budget review? Reviewing your budget is a relatively quick and simple exercise that will pay dividends throughout the year in saved time, effort, and frustration. I use YNAB (You Need a Budget) to map out my spending and saving plans and consider it a valuable and integral part of my money management system. While the process I outline below makes regular mention of the YNAB software, you can apply the same steps to whatever budgeting … [Read more...] about How to Conduct an Annual Budget Review (and Why You Should)
Articles, Essays, and Think Pieces
YNAB (pronounced Y-nab) is a popular budgeting software application. It has a loyal following, myself included. And for good reason. What makes YNAB (it's an acronym for You Need A Budget) so unique and why it stands so distinctly apart from other budgeting apps and spreadsheets is its combination of three vital budgeting concepts. I don't mean features. Features come and go. The YNAB development team has added and removed lots of features over the years in the software's progression from a … [Read more...] about Why YNAB? A Detailed Breakdown of YNAB’s Unique Layered Approach to Budgeting
The term Credit Card Float has two general meanings: First, the most widely used, generic definition of a credit card float refers to the cushion or “float” of time between when you make a charge to your credit card and when the money is actually due (when you have to pay the credit card bill). This float period can be anywhere from 21 to 52+ days. This variance in time has to do with where the purchase date falls in relation to your card’s billing cycle and statement due date. The second … [Read more...] about What is a Credit Card Float?
I attended a professional development conference today at MSU Denver (my alma mater). In one of the workshop sessions, the presenter mentioned — just as a side comment but with no small measure of pride — that each of his four children do their own laundry and have done so since the age of 5. The workshop was excellent. The content was interesting and the presenter’s perspective was fresh and interesting. But it was the totally random aside about four children each doing their own laundry … [Read more...] about Dirty Laundry
Here we are, again. January. The start of a brand new year. Some people start the year with some New Year's Resolutions. I'm not one of them. It's just not my thing. Nevertheless, I do tend to view the beginning of a new year as a good time to take a fresh look at my goals and review the past twelve months - what did I do, what did I not do, what I want to do better. I also use the beginning of a new year as a reminder for several household and finance maintenance tasks such as changing … [Read more...] about How to Pull a Free Credit Report
It’s nearly that time of the year again — time to harvest the cash back rewards I’ve “earned” on my various credit cards. From a strictly rational maximizing point of view, the best method would be to claim my cash rewards multiple times throughout the year and put that money to work immediately. But as with every money decision we make: it’s personal. In this case the rational-maximizer part of me is easily shouted down by the irrational big-payday emotional- and … [Read more...] about Harvesting Credit Card Rewards
Listen up, fellow budgeters. As you know, I’m all about being financially prepared for the irregular expenses in life. One of the many expenses I point out when discussing irregular expenses (those that don’t happen monthly but do occur on a regular and somewhat predictable schedule) is tires. Yup, new tires for your vehicle(s). My family owns two Subarus. We love them. We’re Subaru devotees. But being a Subaru owner means being prepared to replace four tires all at the same time. Unlike … [Read more...] about New Tires – Are you ready?
The core tenets of my work as a personal money coach: approach each client with unconditional positive regard, andreject the notion that everyone secretly yearns for (and should yearn for) a white, upper-middle class lifestyle. My experience of the Personal Finance world and of Personal Finance “professionals” is that they generally assume that second point — that everyone yearns for the same image of financial independence: a mortgage-free home in a solid upper-middle-class neighborhood, … [Read more...] about The American Dream: the normative personal finance bias
Human beings are masters at rationalizing behavior. We rationalize our decisions by telling ourselves “I deserve it” or “I don’t have any other choice.” When we splurge or give in to our wants, what’s the good of rationalizing it? Are we truly exonerated when we tell ourselves that we “deserved” it instead of just admitting to ourselves that we “wanted” it? Try this exercise: The next time you’re tempted to indulge or splurge on an unplanned or unbudgeted expense, don’t go with … [Read more...] about Stop Rationalizing It and Start Owning It
One of the most frequently raised issues among new YNABsters is the monthly layout of the YNAB4 Budget screen*. Perhaps you're paid once a month on the 15th and you want your "month" to run from the 15th of one month to the 14th of the next. Or maybe you're paid every two weeks and you want the "month" time blocks to be "two week" blocks instead. Or are you struggling because you have big payments due early in the month so you pay them in the previous month? It's confusing to budget this … [Read more...] about Can I Change the Month Start Date in YNAB?